Activision Discovers CoD: Warzone Malware Disguised As Cheats

An in-depth report details a dropper hackers use to access the devices of Call of Duty: Warzone cheaters.

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Activision has published an in-depth report on malware disguised as Call of Duty: Warzone cheats, which gives hackers the ability to "make some easy money" by implementing "some nice bait" for cheaters with high-end CPUs and GPUs.

The report, written up by a team of Activision researchers, examines "a hacking tool being promoted for use against gamers by masquerading as a cheat for Call of Duty: Warzone." The tool in question is "Cod Dropper v0.1," a highly customizable dropper that can install more destructive types of malware on a victim's computer.

A dropper is a malicious program used to trick victims into disabling their securities to gain access to their credentials, though this sometimes occurs without the victim's knowledge. Droppers are disguised as other, more population applications. This gives a dropper the backdoor to a victim's device, as they often go undetected.

In the case of "Cod Dropper v0.1," Activision outlined that bad actors used the dropper to mine cryptocurrency from their victims by promoting the dropper as a "newbie friendly" and "effective" mode for spreading a remote access trojan (RAT). Hackers also took to forums to advertise the RAT as a video game cheat built to "target high-end CPU GPU users," according to one hacker who shared a tutorial.

The dropper, which was initially spotted in March 2020, spread quickly, gaining traction across forums, spawning advice discussions and YouTube walkthroughs. It even made its way to a popular cheating site in April 2020, labeled as a "new cod hack," and was reposted to the same forum in March 2021 as a "very simple cheat."

Activision concluded the report by saying that "the dependencies for a 'genuine' cheat to work are the same as those needed by most malware tools to successfully execute." The publisher went on to say that "Cod Dropper v0.1" is "a social engineering technique" that exploits the willingness of players who want to cheat.

Cheaters have been proliferating across Warzone for a while now, with publisher Activision and co-developer Raven Software clamping down pretty aggressively on those who engage in the practice. The issue is getting so bad that high-profile players are abandoning Warzone entirely. Cheats are also a problem in Call of Duty: Mobile, with media conglomerate Tencent and the Chinese police shutting down a $76 million operation.

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